CEQA Roundup – The Good, Bad & Potentially Bad: What business thinks of reform bills

by Justin Ewers : caeconomy.org – excerpt

The CEQA reform debate was put largely aside this week as lawmakers work to finalize the state budget before next week’s deadline. The short breather provided an opportunity for a post-mortem on the legislative process so far—with one analysis by a group of land use attorneys offering an early glimpse of where business interests, in particular, are likely to seek changes in the months ahead. (More on that below.)

What CEQA proposals are still moving

Of the more than two dozen CEQA bills introduced this winter, only five made it out of their house of origin last week, meaning they could still become law this year.

Perhaps the biggest surprises were the stumbles of the most comprehensive CEQA changes backed by environmentalists, Asm. Ammiano’s AB 953 and Sen. Evans’s SB 617. Both bills contained the same proposal to address lingering legal uncertainty surrounding the recent Ballona decision, a legal change that is popular with some Dems—but particularly unpopular with the state Chamber of Commerce, which tagged both bills as “job killers.” It will be worth watching to see if the bill’s legal language makes its way into one of the five CEQA bills still moving.

The Land Use & Development Law Report offers a helpful roundup of the CEQA changes that are still on the table. Their summary:

Active CEQA bills:

  • SB 731, the “CEQA Modernization Act of 2013.″ (See CAeconomy‘s summary of what the bill does—and doesn’t do.)
  • AB 37, which would require lead agencies to prepare their records of proceedings at the same time they prepare environmental documents for certain projects
  • AB 543, which would require translation of certain CEQA notices and CEQA document summaries if 25% of nearby residents are non-English-speaking
  • AB 436 and AB 380, which would impose additional CEQA notice and filing requirements

CEQA bills that did not make the cut:

  • SB 787, the same far-reaching and controversial CEQA reform proposal that first surfaced in August 2012
  • Proposals for specialized divisions within superior courts to handle CEQA case
  • Efforts to overturn recent appellate court decisions [including Ballona] holding that CEQA concerns the effects of projects on the environment—not effects of the environment on projects
  • Three bills, or portions of those bills, that would have extended the 2011 Environmental Leadership Act’s CEQA streamlining provisions to additional categories of projects

Where business may push back (more)

 

 

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